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England salvage draw against Ukraine in Euro qualifier


Ukraine have been left celebrating "an amazing result" after holding England to a 1-1 draw in their Euro 2024 qualifier.

England were indebted to Kyle Walker netting his first international goal in Saturday's match, played in Wroclaw, Poland.

England dominated possession but Ukraine opened the scoring in the 26th minute through Oleksandr Zinchenko after Yukhym Konoplia cut back a pass from the right for the midfielder to sidefoot past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

"It's an amazing result for us," Zinchenko said. "England are one of the best teams in the world."

Ukraine have not played at home since Russia's invasion in February 2022 and the crowd noise inside Tarczynski Arena was deafening at times.

"It's a pleasure for the players, they made a good celebration for the people," Ukraine coach Sergiy Rebrov said.

England levelled close to halftime after skipper Harry Kane gathered the ball in midfield and superbly picked out Walker who neatly controlled the ball and slotted home.

"It's a point away from home and we're in a good position in the group," said Walker, whose side are six points clear in Group C.

"It was always going to be tough as they're a proud nation." 

England, who conceded just their second goal in qualifying, are top with 13 points from five games followed by Ukraine on seven from four. 

Also in Group C, North Macedonia fought back to draw 1-1 with Italy and deny new Azzurri boss Luciano Spalletti a win in his first match in charge.

Spalletti took over following the sudden resignation of Roberto Mancini last month and inherited a side which had already lost to England in their opening fixture.

Ciro Immobile broke the deadlock two minutes into the second half when he headed in a rebound after Nicolo Barella's volley struck the crossbar.

North Macedonia - who beat Italy in the 2022 World Cup play-offs - got back on level terms with nine minutes left through a fine free-kick from captain Enis Bardhi.

The draw left Italy third in the group, having played three games.

Belgium won 1-0 in Azerbaijan to move top of Group F.

Yannick Carrasco deflected a long-range shot from Johan Bakayoko past the wrong-footed Azerbaijan goalkeeper in the 38th minute, which proved enough for all three points to put the Red Devils above Austria on goal difference.

Newcastle forward Alexander Isak was among the scorers as Sweden ran out 5-0 winners in Estonia to sit four points off the top two.

Switzerland missed the chance to extend their lead at the top of Group I after Kosovo fought back to draw 2-2 in Pristina

Romania remain second, two points off Switzerland, after Israel came from behind to draw 1-1 in Bucharest, while it finished goalless between Andorra and Belarus.

Euro 2024 hosts Germany lost 4-1 in a friendly with Japan to pile more pressure on under-fire coach Hansi Flick.

The Germans have won only three times in 11 games, with calls getting louder for a change of leadership.

- with PA